BGSU students name Robert DeBard Master Teacher

Alumni Laureate Scholar Robert Furia presents the Master Teacher award to Robert DeBard.

BOWLING GREEN, O.—Dr. Robert DeBard admits he’s had a “backwards” career. DeBard, an associate professor of higher education and student affairs at Bowling Green State University, went to Indiana University with the intention of earning a Ph.D., joining a liberal arts institution and teaching English while writing the “Great American Novel.”

The realities of the job market forced DeBard into higher education administration, a move, he reflects, that worked out better than he could have planned. “Without the extensive administrative experience I gained in both academic and student affairs administration, I could not have had the effect students tell me I have had on their careers,” Debard said in his philosophy of teaching statement.

His positive impact on students has earned DeBard the Master Teacher Award, presented by the Student Alumni Connection and chosen by BGSU students. DeBard was honored at the Faculty Awards dinner March 22.

DeBard has researched, written and presented on the subject of Millennial students and says they come with a particular set of challenges.

“Come to know and respect what your students know — use technology in ways that accommodates their habits and plays to their strengths. Providing them with information and structure that facilitate their progression through a learning rubric makes learning more comprehensible. Treating them with a sense of fairness and respect encourages them to consult with you outside of class and this can only enhance the learning environment.”

DeBard says students need to see a sense of caring and authenticity in their teachers.

“There is a central philosophy of life that I advance to my students that I think applies to master teachers. It states: Practice humanity, humility and humor. The humanity that perfection escapes us all, but all people do have hopes and aspirations. The humility to realize that we are all but human and so occasionally we need help as well as occasionally need to give it, and certainly humor that gives us a sense of perspective that laughing at yourself is a grand way to attract rather than alienate students.”

DeBard is an alumnus of BGSU, having received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English here. He joined the faculty at BGSU Firelands in 1988 and came to the Bowling Green campus in 1993.

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(Posted March 23, 2011 )